My Protest Body: Encounters with Affect, Embodiment, and Neoliberal Political Economy
Keywords:Student Protest, Neoliberalism, Embodiment, Affect, Political Economy, Quebec
AbstractI have frequently justified my participation in the printemps érable by addressing the structural forces, including the politico-economic climate in Québec, the legacy of strike action by students in Québec, and the global neoliberal project. But as my fingers find patches of skin, once blue with abrasions and inflamed with anger, I wonder how I arrived at my class consciousness. In this paper, I explore my involvement in the Quebec student protest movement through a political economic analysis of the proceedings, but consider how the inclusion of affect and embodiment theory can build on our understanding of why and how people engage in political activism and social movements. By combining these approaches, what can we learn about the affected body and political dissent? This exploration of affect and embodiment in the context of neoliberal structures of power does not exist in a vacuum, but draws on a significant body of research that seeks to place the personal within the political, the subjective within the system. While affect and political economy are distinct types of theoretical questions that lead to specific theoretical outcomes, I am interested in how these approaches might play together, and coexist in one academic pursuit. As such, this autoethnography is an exploration in how, we can bring in to dialogue a political economy analyses with an analysis of my phenomenological and deeply affected experience of the protest movement, and the visceral and continuous existence of my class consciousness and protest body.